Prevailing wage laws set required wages on public construction projects. They’re present in a majority of states – but not necessarily an overwhelming majority.
In fact, in recent years there has been a push by several states to repeal prevailing wage laws, just like Michigan did not long ago. This very well may turn into a national trend, but in the meantime, it’s important to know your state’s prevailing wage laws (if there are any on the books).
Let’s look at the Ohio prevailing wage rules.
Ohio Prevailing Wage
Ohio law establishes that “for a legal days work…laborers, workers, or mechanics” who are working on a public project are required to pay no less than the prevailing wage rate. This wage rate must be at least equal to the rate that workers are being paid for similar work in the area where the public work improvement is taking place.
Simple, right? Well, the Ohio prevailing wage regulations can get very specific.
For instance, when it’s time for you to get paid, the regulations explain that employers cannot deduct money from your pay for “food, sleeping accommodations, transportation, use of small tools, or any other thing of any kind or description.” That is unless you agree to it. If you agreed in your contract at the beginning of the project that those deductions could be applied to your pay and that agreement is approved as being fair and reasonable, then it’s enforceable. Bottom line? Better read your contract.
Food for Thought:
Ohio Prevailing Wage Coordinator
Before getting too far ahead of ourselves – who’s even keeping track? Who makes sure prevailing wage rules are followed? In Ohio, that’d be the Prevailing Wage Coordinator.
Ohio expects the contracting public authority to take some active steps to ensure that Ohio prevailing wage rules are followed via these coordinators. There’s a section of the prevailing wage law titled, Wage coordinator; powers and duties, which states:
“no later than 10 days before the first payment of wages…” the contracting public authority must appoint one of its employees to “serve as prevailing wage coordinator during the life of the contract.”
This coordinator has several duties, including:
- Setting up and maintaining files of payroll reports and affidavits submitted by contractors and subcontractors
- Ascertaining the dates when employee wage payments are to be made;
- Receiving a copy of each contractor’s or subcontractor’s full complete payroll
- Establishing and following procedures to monitor the compliance by each contractor and subcontractor with their duty to timely provide copies of payroll records;
- Upon completion, receiving from each contractor or subcontractor the affidavit required prior to final payment;
- Reporting any delinquencies to the chief officer of the contracting public authority and the director of commerce.
As you can see from the above duties, the prevailing wage coordinator is supposed to act as somewhat of a gatekeeper or TSA security person…they check to make sure everyone is following the rules.
How to Know What the Prevailing Wage Rate Is
This one’s easy! Affiliated Construction Trades (ACT) Ohio has got that information easily accessible. Their interactive map breaks down prevailing wage rates by county.
How to File a Complaint
If you find out that your check doesn’t add up the way it’s supposed to, it might be a good idea to broach the subject with the boss. If that doesn’t help, it may be time to file a complaint with the director of commerce.
The Ohio prevailing wage law explains that a complaint “shall be in writing on a form furnished by the director and shall include sufficient evidence to justify the complaint.”
That evidence will likely include some recent pay stubs and other relevant records. If you don’t provide any evidence with your claim, the director will not investigate the claim – so it’s important to have the claim in order.
Finally, the deadline to file a complaint is a generous one: A complaint must be filed within two years after the completion of the project.
You can get a copy of the prevailing wage complaint form here.
Ohio Prevailing Wage Penalties Can Be Tough
If a contractor hasn’t been paying the prevailing wage rate (and gets caught), the director of commerce will give them notice that they are out of compliance. At that point, the contractor will be given time to comply with the prevailing wage rules. However, if they don’t comply within 30 days of the notice, the Attorney General is notified. That’s generally bad news for the offending contractor. The Attorney General will then bring suit against the party in breach of the prevailing wage rules.
If a complaint is filed and it’s found that a contractor or subcontractor paid less than the prevailing wage rate intentionally, that could spell the end of a contractor or subcontractor’s ability to perform public works projects – at least for the short term. The director of commerce complies intentional violators on a list that gets filed with the secretary of state.